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Pharmacies offer advice as more Iowans can get the COVID-19 vaccine

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(KWWL) -- As of Monday, all Iowans over the age of 16 are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but demand far exceeds supply when it comes to vaccination appointments.

Each vaccine provider is doing things a little bit different, some doing a mix of phone and online scheduling while others stick to one method. Because there's not a centralized system to book a vaccine, Iowans will need to do their own research on where and when a vaccine appointment is available.

"Since the beginning we have set up a notification list," said Brent Bovy, the pharmacist at Reinbeck Pharmacy.

Bovy and his wife, Val, as well as their small town pharmacy staff have put in lots of extra hours to keep the local vaccination efforts moving forward. Reinbeck Pharmacy prefers folks try to register for that list through their website, but understands that not all Iowans may be tech savvy.

It's predicted that more vaccines allocations will increase across the Hawkeye State. Many smaller pharmacies have gotten vaccine doses from the county, federal programs, and also national partnerships like the Community Pharmacy Enhanced Services Network, which Bovy praises as being instrumental in their work.

More vaccines means more appointments which means inevitable overlap. Bovy urges those who have signed up for a notification list, wherever it may be, to let the provider know if they secure a vaccine elswhere.

"If you're on a list and you do get your vaccine, let them know so they can take you off their list. That kind of helps just kind of keep things clean," Bovy said.

The cost of the vaccine is covered by the federal government, but providers ask that you bring your insurance card cause there is an adminstration fee. Bovy says not to worry if you're uninsured, as providers have access to programs through the government to help cover that fee. You'll also not have a copay.

Larger pharmacies, like HyVee, expect more appointments to open up this week.

"Our vaccine comes throughout the week, so not everyone is receiving new vaccines today to open up new vaccines today, so I would like people to keep that in mind," said Christina Gayman, HyVee's Director of Public Relations.

Gayman says they're only scheduling appointments online. Patients will be able to schedule both shots, if applicable, when they make the firsts appointment online.

"They're not able to schedule at the pharamcy, it needs to be done online. So if people need help booking their appointments we reccomend that they ask family, friends, neighbors, and if they can utilize the 211 service that will certainly make it easier for them," Gayman said.

"211 Iowa" is the service that utilizes vaccine navigators to help older Iowans track down available appointments in the Hawkeye State. Gayman says their partnership with the hotline allows them to set aside a few extra doses for those older Iowans who want the COVID-19 vaccine.

HyVee does require parental consent if the patient is below the age of 18. Only the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for Iowans under the age of 18.

Vaccine clinics continue around the region, including in Reinbeck. Bovy credits those who just want to help get folks back to normal.

"We've also had just overwhelming supportive people wanting to volunteer, living in a small community, and in our county is just kind of the way we are," Bovy said.

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Taylor Vessel

Multimedia Reporter

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